No matter what you are doing, or how much, all you hear is: how am I going to get it all done?! Seemingly inescapable, overwhelm has crept in. Now you are trying to figure out how to skim through this post, call the doctor, and wipe down the mess on the table next to you, at the same time. How can you get on top of IT all when it keeps piling up? Life seems as overwhelming as a to-do list.
Want to shut off the worry?
Let’s go to some tropical destination, in your mind. No, we are not going to meditate. Just go somewhere pleasant. Me, I like childless tropical destinations.
No picking up, putting away or repeating myself. Finally, free from the mundane tasks and onto some well-deserved me time.
If I were really going on vacation I would start planning. I would be downright happy with anticipation. I would settle on relaxing once I get there. Starting a list of everything I had to get done before I go – doubling my productivity in anticipation of the great escape! The reward/vacation is what makes it special.
There is work, grocery shopping, taxes, packing lunches, getting to daycare, play dates, planning dinner, and any other day-in-and-day-out chore that still has to be finished before adding additional commitments, like little league games, and so on.
Three simple steps can bring clarity to your to-do list:
Clear the Fear.
Remember the tropical paradise and how relaxing it would be. Escaping responsibilities for a time. Relaxation brought by solitude.
True; finding solitude where you ARE, not where you MIGHT be at some point in the future, will help you hear what is important. Sit down. Take a few moments, jot down what your most important goals are of the day. The mound of piling to-dos can create panic you might not even be aware you are experiencing. Think irritability.
Separate reality from the time monster under your bed, or rather, in your head by getting the to-dos out in the light of day.
Identifying what HAS to be done will ease the fear of not being able to get it all done.
Prioritize or Get Paralyzed by how am I going to get it all done.
Sadly, this one gets me more than I like to admit. Depending on my brain to remember, I soon find things falling through the proverbial cracks. When the to-dos begin to swirl around the gray matter I am quickly overwhelmed. Moving without confidence. Commitments pile up quick with four children! Soon, I feel as though I do not know what to do first. This might look like attending a birthday party and an end of year event on the same day. Remember all the “regular” activities/chores still need attention. Knowing which time both are; I still haven’t addressed:
- Which is more important?
- Can I logically do both?
- Reviewed schedule conflicts?
If you have a dinner party Saturday night and a swim meet that morning, can you skip picking up the dry cleaning on Friday? Do you know the cleaners hours?
Schedule or Be Scheduled.
I once heard someone say if you don’t tell your money where to go, someone else will.
Time is no exception!
Is it your time or someone else’s time. An unscheduled lunch can hijack afternoon productivity. In the scenario above, if I can make both events, where do I fit in other commitments, like picking up a gift or dry cleaning? Can I logically get any shopping done if there happens to be worse than usual traffic (this is criteria in a metropolis)?
DO NOT forget to schedule me time. Recharge your batteries! REWARD yourself! Pick something for getting it all done and schedule that too. This is IMPORTANT.
My fourth, and final (bonus) tip is this:
Mind the Time.
When the schedule becomes hectic, getting out of bed feels like a job in itself. All of the sudden, you have no energy. Things have gotten away from you and realize you are under the pile of things to get done, again. How can you get back on track?
Pick a task, big or small.
Start small if you feel weighed down. During times of this mindset, even the smallest tasks can feel like they could break you.
Doing dishes in a good example. As soon as you are able, go to the sink. Begin the timer on your phone or some timer, and start washing. When the task is complete, stop, check the timer.
Create real time data with this data management exercise. It reminds you (and your brain) what IS happening.
Here are the principals:
- Processing past data equals depression (e.g., I’ve failed here before and so on),
- future data creates anxiety because of overwhelm (e.g., too many variables), and
- present data is light, energy driving data, that is really happening.
Free of the past and future, thus experiencing real time.
Alternatively, allow a certain amount of time for a task. For example, today, I will allow 10 minutes to clean the bathroom. Set the timer for 10 minutes. When 10 minutes is up, stop. This discipline allows you to move on.
Practice. Overcome feelings of not having enough time to get it all done with task timing.
New data input begins to overcome the confusing data.
Be cognizant of overwhelm. Implement task timing when you do not want to do anything at all.
Having a plan WILL lower anxiety. Action will bring move you out of the past.
Stop all the noise in your head, so you can hear everything else. Have shut off the worry or stopped listening? Three steps: 1) Clear the Fear, 2) Prioritize or Get Paralyzed, and 3) Schedule or Be Scheduled help with what needs to be done, identifying what is important, and marrying them to your time….not the other way around. If it all seems impossible, Mind the Time. Set your timer and get present.
Take a vacation if all else fails even if it’s a staycation in your bathtub. While you are there read 35 Ways to Get More Energy Naturally. I love number two! Me time can recharge the lowest batteries.